Perfume Directory

Calyx (1986)
by Clinique (originally by Prescriptives)

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Calyx information

Year of Launch1986
GenderFeminine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 146 votes)

People and companies

HouseClinique
Originally byPrescriptives
PerfumerSophia Grojsman
Parent CompanyEstee Lauder Companies

About Calyx

Calyx is a feminine perfume by Clinique. The scent was launched, originally by Prescriptives, in 1986 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Sophia Grojsman

Calyx fragrance notes

Reviews of Calyx

Calyx (1986) is such an interesting fragrance really, as it has a rush of fresh green notes on top a tropical fruit basket, yet still is underpinned like a chypre with oakmoss and a hint of white musk to modernize it. This stuff is pretty much a tropical cK One (1994) but eight whole years before that scent emerged to launch the unisex craze, and was thus marketed feminine due to how fruity and light most of Calyx's structure comes across. The history behind Calyx and its former parent house is pretty interesting too. Prescriptives was a beauty division launched by Estée Lauder in the 80's, and offered custom-blended bespoke foundations to women who shopped at their counters, with Calyx being the signature fragrance from the brand. Calyx fit well into the brand's emerging style of naturally-derived custom-blended products using the most cutting-edge beauty science, and itself was considered a futuristic scent in a decade full of take-charge feminines. Instead of being a heady oriental, sharp chypre, or aldehyde flower bomb, Calyx quietly introduced the fruity floral alongside Liz Claiborne (1986) to the vernacular of women's perfumes, but keeps itself surprisingly gender-neutral thanks to the heaps of botanicals in the breakdown. A few other perfumes came out under the Prescriptives label, but they were more science than nature some may say, and didn't match the slow burning appeal of Calyx. The brand Prescriptives itself didn't even outlive the perfume to which it gave birth, being shuttered in 2010, only to be reopened as an online-only service, while Calyx was quietly rebranded a Clinique perfume.

Sophia Grojsman took a rare turn away from her usual "tuberose terror" composition style of the day, perhaps in a precursor to the more synthetic and hedionic approach she would pioneer with Calvin Klein Eternity (1987) onward. Calyx still showcases Grojsman's love of rose, but it's very slight in quantity here. The opening of Calyx gets off quite fresh, juicy, and cool, thanks to a spearmint note wrapped around peach and apricot. Marigold from several other Grojsman perfumes makes a return, but it's not very noticeable in the overall structure of the top, which is a godsend because too much yellow floral glow would destroy the delicate middle of this one. A green melon note meets with a sweet raspberry in the middle, and is likely an early use of calone to achieve the melon effect coupled with jasmine hedione and a slight dab of soapy orris for the body wash clean the fragrance overall communicates to my nose. Cyclamen and muguet add the prerequisite white florals to the middle, but we're back in green territory once that psuedo-chypre base kicks in with oakmoss, cedar, and white musk. Calyx leans mostly feminine, but because of the clean green aesthetic, and open-minded man, or at least one in touch with his feminine side enough to enjoy copious amounts of fruit might enjoy a wearing of Calyx. Trust me when I say if you use any off-the-shelf unisex body washes like those made by Suave or Herbal Essences, you've already encountered the olfactory descendants of Calyx. Wear time is decent enough at about 8 hours but sillage is mild, especially for an 80's fragrance, meaning Calyx is light and polite enough for modern use, which might be why it still remains hugely popular. Cold air does kill all presence with this fragrance however, so I'd keep it for indoor use or outdoor use in warmer seasons or climates.

The only real point of criticism I can lobby at fragrance so ahead of its time is the fact that this idea was accepted, and so widespread abused, by the health and beauty segment after the release of Calyx. I'm automatically taken to the soap, shampoo, and bath aisle every time I catch a whiff of Calyx, as I'm sure I've smelled many copycats of its minty melon and floral structure in numerous products that has graced my shower stall over the years. I suppose too much success is the biggest enemy of any luxury product (even if not copied), as the inevitable ubiquity caused by popularity robs a luxury good of its exclusivity and thus prestige, meaning you won't feel so "special" wearing this if everyone else is too. Oh well, at least Calyx can now be seen as the inadvertent younger, less-serious sister to Aromatics Elixer (1971) since the Clinique brand took the scent over in 2010. Reformulations remove some of the moss and push Calyx further into the fresh fruity zone, but it hasn't lost much of its focus as that was sort of the territory it was shooting for anyway, and the green mossy elements were actually the most conventional facets of the scent when launched in 86. I'd say this is best used after a bath or shower, maybe even on vacation at a beach or at a day spa. Calyx just seems to scream spring and early summer wherever it goes, with a big mint leaf on the box to let you know what you're in for if you open it! Some people hate fruity florals, so knowing this is one of the progenitors of the genre might cause quite a bit of ire, but I'm not going to knock innovation, so it gets a thumbs up from me for being an interesting, little-discussed game changer.
05th November, 2018
For the 1st few minutes, I don't like this scent! Then....about an hour later, it settles into one of my favorites. Go figure! The scent doesn't last all day on my skin, but I can still detect it 5-6 hours later.

I'm glad Clinique keeps Calyx around...it's a winner! It's totally different from most of the candy/floral fluff coming out these days! :)
19th January, 2016
No longer owned by Prescriptives but now handled by another Estee Lauder company, Clinique. Calyx is such a clever fragrance; I still don't understand how it works. It is brash, strong, fruity, sour; it should be horrible and yet it isn't. Compare Calyx with any Escada fragrance and you will understand ( a little ) why. There are none of the over ripe strawberry jam notes, nor the sickeningly sweet fake gourmand ones. The sweetness is balanced by the sour; the cat's pee calms down the synthetic fruits, and, overall, a wonderful Rose slowly reveals itself. For such a toppy fragrance it lasts a surprisingly long time; for such an apparently simple idea it is remarkably complex. It is a fragrance to make you smile, and I am so glad that it is still being promoted and sold. I was given a small sample when I bought some Clinique products recently. Sofia Grojsman is, of course, a genius.
09th October, 2015
I decided to revisit Calyx after trying it 15 years ago. The minute I applied it, I remembered what it was I didn't care for then - that melon note. I didn't like it then, that fakey mushy melon, and still don't. It's surprisingly the same, like time standing still. And it doesn't have effervescence or sparkle on my skin, just sort of lays there, which seems wrong...
14th March, 2015
Where the fruits and flowers thrive...

I can't help but bow before Calyx, and this is already a contradiction. Because Calyx is not an austere or exacting scent that makes you wanna pay your dues to its cachet or eminence. "Then why?" one could ask. Well, those of you who have not lived the magnitude of the '80s try to imagine this. In an era of dominating femme-fatale heavy-hitters, like Poison in 1985 and Loulou in 1987, which were huge successes and still are, Calyx came flying under the radar in 1986, dropping a mega bomb loaded with bliss and joy of life. Oh, and inventing a whole new genre too. I'm not sure if it's the fruity-floral, the floral-green or the fruity-floral-green one, but Calyx is made in Heaven! So my bow pays respect to a pioneer that happens to be an unbelievably good perfume too. What now seems to be the rule, was the exception back then. The rule was that fruits were shot on sight without further explanation. How many grande dames of the '80s could claim they had any prominent fruity notes, other than the occasional apricot or plum, included in their prima-donna vocal ranges? But while most of them were the distant divas frequenting the opera houses, Calyx was the dish from next door playing merry songs on her guitar in a subway station. And while the vamps, bedecked with diamonds and pearls, are sipping champagne and picking at salmon in the foyer, the imp is happy with a slice of pizza and a beer, whose pull tab wears as a ring after opening it. To cut a long story short, there are only two scents which put a big silly smile on my face every single time I sniff them. And maybe because of my preference for subway stations over opera houses, Calyx is one of them. It's the happy girl hopping around and giving you a flirty kiss on your cheek, among a bunch of aloof ladies, who demand a contract signed with your blood to just deign having their eyes laid upon you. It's a silvery sexy giggle among a clamor of elaborate erotic sighs. The lovely brat that every august matron looks daggers at and shoos. But only to move just a couple of steps aside, before she returns with her dulcet laughter filling the room. Don't get me wrong, I find all these '80s perfumes simply stunning and Bastet knows how much I love them, but it's like Calyx outshines them all because of being so different and daring. And just because these two traits are not always considered merits, maybe this was the reason that Calyx never got the fame it deserved; not back in the days, and to an even lesser degree now. But you know what? Who cares? This cunning tart surely doesn't, since I think I can see her winking at our direction, while singing tunefully "Who needs fame when she's happy?..."
20th December, 2014
Genre: Green Floral

Calyx opens with a blast of candied tropical fruit that reminds me of nothing so much as a big, fluorescent colored lollipop, and were it not for the scent’s high repute I might have dismissed it right away. The chemical fruit note persists, but softens over time to merge with a very smooth, milky green floral accord with the olfactory texture of a luxury hand cream. (Which given the Prescriptives cosmetic brand, isn’t so surprising.) That many lotions and shampoos are similarly scented does Calyx no favors, and it’s hard for me to shake the impression that I’m wearing a high-end bath product. Sillage and projection are limited from the start, and on me Calyx fades within two hours to a very soft fruit custard skin scent. Calyx ultimately strikes me as a pleasant scent but in the final analysis I don’t think it’s anything special. Menard's L'Eau de Ryokuei does the green floral thing much better (albeit more expensively), and for something a bit weightier and entirely sugar free, there's Nicolaï’s lovely Le Temps d’une Fête.

An aside: I wonder if Calyx has inspired Dawn Spencer Hurwitz’s recent Celadon, which being drier and less conventionally fruity, is an easier fragrance for me to wear.
11th June, 2014

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